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Bars and restaurants resume normal operating hours across Minnesota for the first time in over a year

For the first time in over a year, bars and restaurants are resuming normal operating hours as Minnesota gradually reopens.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Some might say it's been a long time coming.

"It has been 14 months since we've been able to be open 'til 1 a.m.," said Amanda Gordon, Manager at JJ's Clubhouse in Golden Valley. 

"We've taken a lot of precautions but I do feel like it was overdue," said Dawn Hoglund, who was out enjoying happy hour Friday night. 

As of Friday, bars and restaurants can resume normal business hours which means no early closing time. It's part of Governor Tim Walz's three phase approach to re-opening Minnesota.

"Restrictions really did limit where you could go, how often you could go, so it was a lot of staying at home and being isolated," said Hoglund. 

For more than a year now bars and restaurants have had to close up shop by 11 p.m. under the governor's executive order, forcing many to miss out on a few extra hours and whole lot of money.

"We have always been the bar to be open until we have to close," said Skye Otteson, a bartender and server at Schuller's Tavern in Golden Valley. 

"We still had the normal crowds in here, it was just they had to be out by 11," said Gordon. 

However now, there's a sense of freedom among bar patrons, coming at a time when the state is nearing the 70% vaccination mark needed to end the mask mandate.

"I'm hoping we can get to the 70% vaccination before July because I'm done with wearing masks," said Paula Swanson who was enjoying happy hour at JJ's Clubhouse. 

A task many want to see happen sooner rather than later while still keeping everyone safe.

"I'm thrilled to hear that mandates are getting lifted I just hope that it's getting done in a way where it's not just 100% capacity tomorrow because again I still think we need to be conscious of what's going on," said Dan Holte, as he sat with friends at Schuller's Tavern. 

There are still capacity limits for indoor dining which are set to expire on May 28, and many bars and restaurants are still requiring you to be masked when indoors and not seated at a table.

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